Medication Errors

Medication error is the term use to describe an error that occurred at any phase of medication-use process. In 2008, a standard and universal definition of medication error was developed by the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCC MERP) which states that a medication error refers to any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate use of medication or patient harm while the medication is in control of a Ahealth professional, patient, or consumer (Murdaugh, p. 441). Pharmacies are one of the health departments responsible for preventing medication errors because of their role in the procurement, control, and distribution of medications.

Murdaugh (2008) enumerated the different responsibilities of a pharmacy, among of which are: ensuring that medications are accurately and timely dispensed, ensuring medications integrity, maintaining patient medication profiles accurate, monitoring for appropriate and safe use of medication, providing accurate, up-to-date drug information to health professionals, patients, and care givers, educating health professionals, patients, and care givers about safe and effective use of medications, participating in medication errors report and analysis, and collaborating with other departments and health professions to evaluate and improve the medication-use system (p. 440). Indeed, the role of the pharmacies is essential to the prevention of medical errors and improvement of health care.

Medication errors in the pharmacy varies in kinds or types and includes prescribing error, omission error, wrong time error, unauthorized drug error, improper dose error, wrong dosage form error, wrong drug preparation error, wrong administration technique error, deteriorated drug error, and monitoring drug error (Murdaugh, 442).

Medication errors can be prevented if communication will be enhanced in terms of illegible, ambiguous or inaccurate orders and in the systems of measurement, zeroes, decimal points and abbreviations being used in the prescription orders. In addition, names, labels, and packages must be clear to distinguish look-alike or sound-alike medication names (Murdaugh, 444). There should be medication standards for storage and distribution practices such as stocking standardized concentrations and commercially premixed products or medications. It is also the responsibility of the pharmacy to make sure that medication delivery devices are safe such as avoidance of packaging oral liquid medications in containers with Luer connections. In preventing medication errors, it is essential to address environmental factors and staffing patterns. Environment should be organized, free from interruptions, and conducive for working and staff must be provided with orientation, education, supervision, and competency (Murdaugh, 445).

The responsibility of the pharmacy in preventing medication errors does not end in the procurement or dispensing phase. As a member of the health department, pharmacies are obliged to educate the patient or consumer about the drug, to answer consumers’ queries, and to make sure that information being provided are well-understood by the consumer (Murdaugh, 445).

Pharmacies cannot do this alone. They need the support of partner-agencies, government, and consumers of health care. With collaboration from all responsible parties, medication errors can be prevented through the development of a medication safety program. According to Murdaugh (2008), a medication safety program must holistically address medication error to sustain a lasting solution (Murdaugh, 452). This can be done by involving all disciplines, providing needed resources and support, emphasizing culture of safety, identifying high-risk steps in the medication-use system, developing a systematic and organized plan, assessing staff and patients’ education and competence, communicating up-to-date and accurate drug information, and using appropriate technology (Murdaugh, 452).

Medication errors may lead to life-threatening conditions. As members of the health care team, pharmacies must give high priority on improving the use of medication processes in order to promote safety.

Work Cited

Murdaugh, Lee B. Competence Assessment Tools for Health-System Pharmacies, 4th ed. Maryland: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, 2008, pp. 440-452).

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